Conversations about cloud in Asia are rapidly evolving.

“In the early days, I would have conversations nearly every day with CIOs about what is cloud, why move to cloud, what’s the benefit of cloud,” says Dean Samuels, head of solutions architecture for Amazon Web Services in Hong Kong and Taiwan. “We’re definitely past that. Now two questions generally come up with our customers. ‘What can I move, and how fast can I move?’”

Before enterprises can move to the cloud, however, they have to first align people, processes and technology.

“Most enterprise organizations will be all-in on cloud,” Samuels says. “But we do understand that there’s going to be a transition period. There’s that journey where organizations have a large amount of investment, both from a human resources perspective as well as technical debt that they had in their own infrastructure. That migration is not going to happen overnight. That transition is going to be really focused on the ability to create this hybrid cloud environment.”

One common conversation Samuels has with customers is about their security concerns. In moving to the cloud, many security-related tasks that don’t directly add business value are shifted from the customer to the cloud provider. Some customers worry about that, but Samuels explains how security controls and procedures can still be applied in the cloud environment in a way that’s similar to what’s happening on-premises.

Technology is actually the easy part, Samuels adds. The bigger challenge CIOs face is often on the people side of things.

“It’s really changing the culture, because we are taking responsibility of certain things in your IT infrastructure away from individuals who have built their career on managing their own data centers,” Samuels says. “So, making sure we can educate those CIOs, and also the individuals, that we’re not really making their job redundant … we’re taking that away so they can really focus on automation and driving value to the business.”

As technology changes, the conversations about cloud will also keep changing.

“For any large-scale software project in the future, it’s going to have some type of artificial intelligence capability,” Samuels says. “We’re really just at the tip of the iceberg today. We understand that we need to put the capability of deep learning and machine learning — artificial intelligence — in the hands of the everyday person. You don’t have to be the hardcore machine learning practitioner in order to take advantage of this.”

At the end of the day, though, moving to the cloud shouldn’t be a technology-driven decision, Samuels says. It should be business-driven, utilizing whatever arrangement works best for the company.

“The conversation with CIOs is not so much on the technology itself,” Samuels says, “but in terms of what their long-term business strategy is.”

For instance, what do they want to focus on? How can things like artificial intelligence platforms help them? How could deploying a virtual desktop infrastructure for their employees help increase productivity? Or, how will they be able to provision things that were typically very complicated, such as call centers, using cloud-based technology and API calls.

“We have to have that conversation with the customers in terms of their overall long-term strategy,” Samuels concludes. “Yes, they’re moving to cloud, but what does that really look like?”